Microtransactions, Explained: Here’s What You Need To Know

The topic of microtransactions dominated the headlines of video game news in the second half of 2017. EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II was a shining example of things going wrong, with a developer pushing too far and ultimately needing to apologise and reverse course. Battlefront II reignited the conversation around microtransactions, including loot boxes and other systems. But what are microtransactions, how do they work, and where are they going? To help make sense of the matter, we’ve put together a primer of sorts to help you understand the basic definitions, context, realities of why microtransactions exist, and more.

What Are Microtransactions?

There is no one catch-all definition for microtransactions that perfectly encapsulates and represents the term. But generally speaking, a microtransaction is anything you pay extra for in a video game outside of the initial purchase. For example, Activision’s Call of Duty series offers microtransactions in the form of in-game currency called Call of Duty Points for extra items like weapon camos. Overwatch sells Credits that you can use to purchase cosmetic items. The FIFA franchise sells FIFA Points for Ultimate Team.

The name derives from the fact that, oftentimes, a microtransaction purchase is small in price and function, typically no more than $10. Lower-priced microtransactions in the range of 99 cents to $10 may make up the bulk of sales, but it’s not the only option. Many games, on console, PC, and mobile, offer “micro” transactions that cost up to $100 or in some cases even more.

Microtransactions are extremely commonplace in video games today. In fact, it is often more newsworthy when a game does not have microtransactions. But not every game handles them the same way.

Why So Controversial?

The word “microtransaction” oftentimes conjures up memories of the worst, most player-unfriendly applications of the business practice. Just recently, EA found itself in hot water because Star Wars Battlefront II was set to allow you to purchase loot boxes with real money. These loot boxes can include items and abilities that actually affect gameplay, so some gamers saw this as a move towards a pay-to-win scenario.

The idea is that if you paid enough money, you could eventually acquire weapons and upgrades that would give you an advantage on the playing field. This was obviously met with a huge amount of criticism, and EA decided to pull the plug hours before launch. Microtransactions are coming back to Battlefront II, but it remains to be seen in what form.

Blizzard’s popular hero shooter Overwatch allows players to purchase loot boxes with real money as well. But the big difference is that those loot boxes only contain cosmetic items–that is, items that do not affect gameplay in any manner. Another element at play is the difference between microtransactions in full-priced games versus free-to-play titles. For free-to-play games, the business model is entirely dependent on people spending money on microtransactions, so microtransactions are expected. That’s typically the only way they make money.

Epic’s new Battle Royale game Fortnite: Battle Royale is a free download, but you can spend money on all manner of cosmetic items such as emotes and skins to customise your character. None of these items affect gameplay. Some developers will make the argument that free-to-play, as a business model, is the most democratic because if the developer doesn’t create content that’s compelling enough, people won’t spend money and the game will fail.

Some say it is icky for big-budget, AAA games to ask for more money beyond the initial sale price, which can be $60 or more depending on where you live and what you’re after. Developers like Ubisoft and Activision will point out that microtransactions in games like Assassin’s Creed Origins and Call of Duty: WWII are completely optional, and because they do not impact gameplay–or, if they do, are limited to single-player–they don’t affect balance or the general integrity of the game. If you want armour for your horse, buy it. Want a weed camo skin for your gun? You can buy it. Being able to craft a character that is uniquely you is part of the appeal of many games today. The issue for some is that games now offer the ability to buy content that, in the past, might have been included right away. Publishers might counter that the price of games has not gone up, despite inflation and rising development costs.

Legislative Action

In the wake of the controversy around Star Wars Battlefront II, lawmakers and regulatory bodies from around the world are taking a closer look at loot boxes to decide if action should be taken. The principle directive among these people and groups is to determine if loot boxes–which offer up a random reward–constitute a form of gambling. And if they are deemed to be a form of gambling, that could mean they are subject to the same or similar restrictions as casinos and the lottery. The idea is that you would have to be a certain age to buy a game with loot box mechanics.

A state representative from Hawaii has already submitted multiple bills into his local legislature in which he voiced his concerns about loot boxes and proposed that a law be enacted that bans the sale of video games with “gambling-like mechanisms” to people under the age of 21. This could be a landmark piece of legislation. While if it became law it would only apply to games sold in Hawaii, it could set a precedent for other states and countries to follow. Indeed, lawmakers in Indiana and Washington have put forth bills with similar language, while US Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) has called on the ESRB to review its practices and policies surrounding games with loot boxes.

In response to this request, the ESRB just recently announced that it will introduce a new label on some games with microtransaction systems. The overall goal is to inform consumers–and in particular, parents–about which games offer a way to spend additional real-world money from right within the game itself, but whether it will be effective is unclear. The ESRB’s new label, which will read “In-Game Purchases,” will be located near the rating category (E for Everyone, M for Mature, etc.) but will not be housed inside the same box as content descriptors (Sexual Content, Comic Mischief, etc.). The ESRB expects games to begin arriving in stores with the new label in the “near future.” This will coincide with the launch of a new website intended to inform parents about the ESRB’s ratings system, how in-game purchases work, and how to use parental tools to control what and how children play games. The new label will offer no specifics about the type of in-game purchases available so as to avoid overwhelming parents with too much information, the ESRB says.

The Entertainment Software Association, which lobbies on behalf of the video game industry, has a different idea. It would rather see self-regulation by video game groups like the ESRB than the kind of government-mandated changes that the lawmakers are proposing. This reaction is understandable, as a law that would, even in some small way, limit the sale of video games is not something that the ESA would so easily or willingly get behind. It is important to note that while legislation motions are in action, it is in the very early stages, and statistics show that the overwhelming majority of bills never become law on a state and federal level. Still, there is a discussion to be had on the topic, and it is a healthy one. In China, regulators have mandated that games with loot boxes clearly and transparently disclose odds–and games like Overwatch are compliant.

What Analysts Are Saying

Microtransactions are a relatively new addition to the video game business model. Video game analysts, who analyse trends and report back to clients to help them make investment decisions, generally agree that microtransactions are here to stay. Daniel Ahmad, who works for Niko Partners, said as much earlier this month when commenting on Activision Blizzard’s $4 billion in microtransaction revenue in 2017. “It further goes to show that add on content such as DLC, Season Passes, Microtransactions, and other post-launch monetisation content is becoming increasingly accepted and desired across console and PC, just like it has been on mobile for some time,” he explained at the time.

Why Do Developers Use Microtransactions?

The first and most obvious reason is that microtransactions have proven to be hugely and consistently lucrative. Almost every major video game publisher now reports microtransaction revenue; Activision Blizzard reported $4 billion in revenue from microtransactions in 2017 alone. Ubisoft said in a recent earnings report that digital add-on content is highly attractive because it can be produced quickly and cheaply. Not only that, but any form of digital sale is highly attractive to publishers because the margin ratios–that is, the difference between what the item costs and how much it costs to produce relative to revenue and profit–are excellent. There is no physical box to sell for a microtransaction.

Even with platform holders like Sony and Microsoft taking their usual 30 percent cut, microtransactions make a lot of money for publishers. Almost every major publisher that discloses microtransaction revenue has reported year-over-year increases, so you can expect publishers to continue this effort going forward. Take-Two, whose labels include Rockstar and 2K Games, has said it wants to have some form of “recurrent consumer spending” in every game that it makes. And that would include this year’s highly anticipated western, Red Dead Redemption 2.

Microtransactions are also attractive to publishers because, as video games become more expensive to produce, revenue from microtransactions can help offset the development cost of the main game. The price of a full-priced game went up from $50 to $60 during the Xbox to Xbox 360 and PS2 to PS3 transition, but no such price hike happened in the next generation. Developers like Ubisoft are now releasing fewer games but supporting those titles for a longer period of time with new content, some of which is paid. As an example, Ubisoft shipped Rainbow Six Siege in 2015, and instead of making a sequel, the developer plans to use the games-as-a-service model to support the game. The developers of Rocket League and PUBG are following a similar trajectory, and you can expect other games and franchises to follow suit in the future.

What’s The Future For Microtransactions?

Every major publisher in video games is already investing in microtransaction systems, and as mentioned, they bring in lots of money and at a high margin. You can therefore expect microtransaction systems to continue to exist and grow in ubiquity. Some publishers are saying the right things, like EA, whose CEO Andrew Wilson is promising that microtransactions need to feel “right” and player-friendly. Ubisoft said the same thing recently when questioned about loot boxes and microtransactions in Rainbow Six Siege. The game’s brand director made the case that Ubisoft’s golden rule about loot boxes is that the items they contain should never impact gameplay in any way whatsoever. What happens in practice at EA, Ubisoft, and other publishers remains to be seen. But what is clear is that microtransactions are here to stay.

Black Ops 3 Zombies Maps Are Now Available To Buy Individually

Coming up on three years after Call of Duty: Black Ops III’s release in 2015, publisher Activision continues to support the popular shooter. After releasing a surprise new map and mode, the company has announced that all of the game’s Zombies maps can now be purchased individually on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Support for individual purchases will be added to PC soon.

As explained by CharlieIntel, the maps cost $8 each (there are four in all), and they also come with 5 vials of Liquid Divinium per map. Previously, you had to buy entire DLC packs, so this is a nice option to have if you’re after one particular map or another.

The next Call of Duty game is Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, which is in development at Black Ops creator Treyarch. The game is due out on October 12, which is a month earlier than normal for the Call of Duty series. That timing may have something to do with Red Dead Redemption 2, which arrives on October 28 and is expected to be one of the biggest games of the year.

Try Games Without Downloading With New Google Play Feature

At the Game Developers Conference this week, Google introduced a nifty new feature that should remove some friction between players and games they may be interested in. Called “Google Play Instant,” the feature allows users to try select Android games without downloading them. It details the new feature on its official blog.

Currently the Instant Gameplay section includes only a handful of titles like Clash Royale, Words With Friends 2, and Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire. That section may be slow to grow for the foreseeable future, too, because right now the feature is only in closed beta. Still, the option will allow players to demo games more easily, which is clearly the goal from Google’s perspective.

CNET reports that this comes alongside a revision of the Google Play Games app to include an “Arcade” tab, along with new content sorting features. This effort is an update to Google’s existing Instant Apps feature, introduced in 2016. That allowed users to access certain features, such as a purchase through a retail app, without actually installing it.

Dark Souls On Switch Looks Better Than 360/PS3 Version

We’ve learned little of the Nintendo Switch version of Dark Souls Remastered, except from a short gameplay clip that spent a lot of time showing off a Dark Souls Amiibo. However, a deep analysis of this gameplay already reveals some important graphical improvements coming to the game.

In an attempt to discern any meaningful differences between the Switch version and the original Dark Souls on Xbox 360 and PS3, Digital Foundry took a close look at the gameplay clip that was recently shown in a Nintendo Direct, which you can see in the embed above. From this footage, Digital Foundry was able to determine that the game was, in fact, running in 1080p.

If this clip was actual Switch gameplay, then this would be in line with Bandai Namco’s target of 720p in portable mode and 1080p docked. This is a big boost from the original versions, which outputted at 1024×720.

Although it was able to determine this resolution increase, Digital Foundry had trouble finding any other meaningful graphical changes from the 360/PS3 versions. This doesn’t mean that the Switch release won’t have any changes to textures or lighting; rather, the trailer simply doesn’t show them right now. Digital Foundry did find “extra pockets of shade,” which indicate that the port may add ambient occlusion. You can read more of Digital Foundry’s analysis here.

This is great news, since it suggests that the Switch version might be more than just a straight port, and it indicates that the game seems to be running well on the console. It’s also no small feat, considering that Dark Souls ran poorly on its original consoles, so hopefully the full game bears this out. It’s currently scheduled for release on May 25 and will have a technical test sometime before that.

Great Sale On Xbox One X, Sea Of Thieves, And Another Game Happening Now

Sea of Thieves is one of the most anticipated Xbox One exclusives of the year, and it comes out tomorrow. However, there’s already a pretty good deal going on for the game if you happen to be in the market for an Xbox One X: you can grab a console with Sea of Thieves and another game for just $460.

A current promotion on Ebay slashes the price of a bundle that includes an Xbox One X, a game code for Sea of Thieves, and a choice of either Ghost Recon: Wildlands or Overwatch: Game of the Year Edition. The Xbox One X still retails normally for $500, Sea of Thieves is $60, and Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Overwatch are still in the $40-60 range, so this is a fantastic deal.

To take advantage, go to this Ebay page and add the bundle to your cart. You’ll see the $460 price tag when you begin checking out. It’s worth noting, though, that this is a limited deal, and it’s unclear how many of these bundles will be sold. So if you’re interested, it’s worth taking advantage of it sooner rather than later.

This isn’t the only Sea of Thieves deal going on right now: Microsoft is also holding an official promotion that bundles an Xbox One X and a digital copy Sea of Thieves together for the console’s normal retail price of $500. You can also grab a 1 TB Xbox One S, an extra controller, 1 month subscriptions to Xbox Live and Game Pass, and Sea of Thieves for $300.

Sea of Thieves launches tomorrow, March 20, although servers are already up in some regions–read here to see when Sea of Thieves goes live where you live. If you are an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, you’ll get access to the game for free on Xbox One and PC. If you want to learn more about the game, check out our video where we fight the Kraken in Sea of Thieves.

Sea Of Thieves: We Fought The Kraken, Watch It Here

The Sea of Thieves servers are coming online now for Xbox One and PC, so obviously one of the first things we did was find the kraken and do battle with the giant sea beast.

Part of the appeal here is the surprise, so we won’t spoil all the details. Check out our full gameplay video embedded above to watch all the ways we tried to bring down the massive monster.

Sea of Thieves launches on March 20 for Xbox One and PC. You can buy it outright for $60 on either system or get it on Xbox One with an Xbox Game Pass subscription ($10/month). Starting with Sea of Thieves, all of Microsoft’s first-party games will launch into the Game Pass catalog, including the next Halo and Gears of War titles.

In other news, Microsoft has announced a promotion where you can get a free copy of Sea of Thieves when you buy a new Xbox One X. Additionally, you can check out this schedule to see when servers go live where you live, and find out what’s in the game’s cheeky day-one patch.

Top New Games Out This Week On Switch, PS4, Xbox One, And PC — March 18-24

This week’s biggest games are all about working together. In Sea of Thieves, you and your pals can run your very own pirate ship. In Attack on Titan 2, you can team up to take down the titular titans. And in A Way Out, your only path out of prison is playing cooperatively. On the single-player side, you can solve cases with everyone’s favorite electric mouse in Detective Pikachu, or save the world in Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom.

Sea of Thieves — March 20

Available on: Xbox One, PC

If I tell you that Sea of Thieves is all about gathering a pirate crew with your friends, you can probably figure the rest out: you can explore a massive ocean, run a tight ship, battle other crews, search for buried treasure, and so much more. You might even run into a kraken or two.

Further Reading:

  • Sea Of Thieves For Xbox One And PC: 10 Reasons We’re Excited
  • PC’s Sea Of Thieves Requirements, Recommended Specs Announced

Attack on Titan 2 — March 20

Available on: PS4, Vita, Xbox One, PC, Switch

Maybe your crew would rather defend your hometown from giant, people-eating freaks. This follow-up smash-hit anime game picks up right after the first, and this time you’ll be able to play the whole thing in co-op, or take on the challenge alone with new co-op characters.

Further Reading:

  • New Multiplayer Details Surface For Attack On Titan 2
  • Attack On Titan 2 For Switch Brings Gory Monster-Slaying On The Go

A Way Out — March 23

Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC

A Way Out is a forced co-op game–one player controls Leo, the other controls Vincent–where your goal is to escape prison. In practice, this means one of you can be stuck in a cutscene while the other explores or approach a situation from multiple vantage points.

Further Reading:

  • Prison Escape Co-Op Game A Way Out’s Length Revealed And More
  • A Way Out Could Be The Next Great Co-op Game

Detective Pikachu — March 23

Available on: 3DS

Don’t expect to be choosing starters and earning gym badges in this Pokemon adventure. Instead, you’ll guide a talking Pikachu and his human helper Timmy as they solve cases around town. There are plenty of clues to find and suspicious characters to interrogate.

Further Reading:

  • Detective Pikachu Release Date For 3DS Announced Alongside New, Huge Amiibo
  • Detective Pikachu Might As Well Be Danny Devito

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom — March 23

Available on: PS4, PC

This RPG sequel had its own set of delays, but it’ll soon be time to help King Evan restore his stolen throne. New to the game are the Pikmin-like Higgledies, which can be commanded in battle. And you’ll definitely be having plenty of those across the game’s expansive world.

Further Reading:

  • Check Out A New Boss Fight From PS4/PC’s Beautiful RPG Ni No Kuni 2
  • New Ni No Kuni 2 Footage Shows Off Real-Time Army Battles And Another Boss

Devil May Cry HD Collection Keeps The Action Sharp, But Has Some Issues

While Capcom’s Devil May Cry series has gone a through a number changes over the years, the focus has always been on offering fast-paced combat with a side of self-aware humor and style. With the re-release of the Devil May Cry HD Collection out now, featuring the original Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition–and the much-maligned Devil May Cry 2–the HD collection should be a solid entry point for anyone looking to check out the series’ PlayStation 2 roots. While the original games still hold up, the recent HD port unfortunately retains many of the same issues that plagued the previous release.

As a port of the 2012 HD Collection, the “new” collection for PS4, PC, and Xbox One is largely left intact. In addition to each game receiving a 1080p resolution bump (an increase from the original’s 720p resolution), which includes some slightly sharper textures and characters models, the HD Collection also features a suite of side-content aimed at fans–including an in-game compendium full of concept art, soundtracks for each game, and fan art from the DMC fanbase curated by Capcom US.

While there have been some slight changes introduced for this release, including the addition of a handy return to main menu option for when you want to switch over to another game, it’s largely the same package on new hardware. While it’s great you can play these games on new platforms, many of the older issues from the port linger. After playing with the PS4, and then revisiting the PS3 version, we pulled together a quick rundown of each game, and how their particular HD upgrade has fared.

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Devil May Cry (2001)

Released in 2001, this fast-paced and challenging romp through the dark corridors of a demonic mansion would set the tone for what the series was all about. Balancing macabre humor with the cheap-thrills of a 90s-style action game, the original DMC features a strong focus on creating a slightly dreadful atmosphere, while simultaneously injecting pulse-pounding action throughout. Moreover, DMC1 features an adjusted control-scheme to make it more in-line with how DMC2 and 3 play–particularly swapping the jump and attack buttons. While the combat and in-game graphics have held up well–maintaining a solid 60 frames-per-second throughout–Devil May Cry 1 tends to benefit the least with the upgraded resolution and visuals when compared to the other games.

These issues include strange audio quirks and bad ambient sound looping, slightly warped visual visual effects for attacks and special moves, and some occasional instances where some aspects of the environment and characters to disappear entirely for brief moments. This was a rare occurrence, when exploring some of the more active environments, and other during a combat encounter–which was rather annoying. What’s disappointing about the re-release is that these original issues haven’t been addressed, and many of these problems occur often in DMC1. In addition to the hiccups with the in-game action, many of the stylistic choices from the original game designed around the traditional 4:3 format–including the animated menus text–look incredibly blown out and otherwise weathered.

Despite this, Devil May Cry is still a lot of fun to play. While it’s disappointing to see that the upres hasn’t been kind to some of the game’s already dated qualities, resulting in some muddy looking visuals, the original Devil May Cry is still a strong game with an incredible atmosphere.

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Devil May Cry 2 (2003)

Coming shortly after the release of the original game, Devil May Cry 2 ultimately ended up being a poor follow-up to the original, and still stands as the weakest game of the series. With some rather clunky and sluggish combat, mostly barren environments that lacked a sense of atmosphere, and along with an uncharacteristically somber tone–DMC2 lacks the same sort of edge that the series was founded on. On top of the game’s already drab and unoriginal style, visual and design aspects of the sequel have aged rather poorly–making it the most aesthetically unappealing games in the package.

Having said that, the resolution bump does give much of the textures for the characters a sharper look, giving the game’s quasi cell-shaded style a much more pronounced look–making for some interesting-looking characters during cutscenes. Unfortunately, Devil May Cry 2’s issues are far more than skin deep, which no HD port could fix. With that said, the sequel does feature Dante’s best outfit of the series, the black and red leather–which also made an appearance in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. So there’s that.

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Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (2006)

As the crown jewel of the DMC HD Collection, Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition is the most content rich game in the package–and is arguably the best game in the DMC series. As the prequel, the game is more of a return to form, focusing on fast and challenging combat, and ditching the weirdly earnest story of DMC2 for a narrative that revelled in over-the-top action-movie machismo. The HD port keeps much of its luster. But like the other games, there are still some blemishes to be aware of.

One area the Special Edition falters in is with its presentation. The game features many cutscenes and story beats throughout, using both pre-rendered and in-game rendered cutscenes. While the resolution bump shows off cleaner and more visually pleasing upgrades to the graphics, which shine during combat and in-game cinematics, pre-rendered cinematics are cropped from the original 4:3 scenes, making for some rather unsightly and stretched out looking visuals during some key scenes. This is made worse when watching multiple cutscenes back to back, jumping between cropped and in-game rendered cutscenes. Despite these issues, DMC3 still manages to impress throughout thanks to its irreverent tone and excellent gameplay. Gameplay performs at a rock-solid 60 frames-per-second, and the upgraded resolution makes combat much more clear to follow, making DMC3–and all its combat rich mechanics–a total blast to play.

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While the DMC HD Collection features a number of unsightly inconsistencies issues with its re-release, ultimately showing how much the series has aged since its debut, the trilogy of games still retains the feel and fast-paced action of the series. I still have fond memories of experiencing the games on the PS2, and playing through this trilogy again brought back all those feelings of excitement and frustration during the challenging combat encounters. The HD Collection is a solid way to experience the original games for those that haven’t already. And for those returning to the action, you’ll find that Devil May Cry’s patented action hasn’t quite lost its edge yet.

New Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection Revels In The Glory Of The Series

The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection does a lot to celebrate 30 years of the series’ focus on one-on-one fighting action. While Capcom has released other fighting game collections in the past, such as Street Fighter Anniversary Collection and Street Fighter Alpha Anthology, the 30th Anniversary Collection is by far the most robust compilation package ever released for the series. We recently had the chance to check out the upcoming collection ahead of its May release to all of its offerings. In addition to getting hands-on with the Nintendo Switch-exclusive Tournament Mode, we dived a bit further into the collection, and got to see just what makes this particular package so special.

The clear focus in the collection is highlighting the many major milestones of the 2D era. Featuring 12 of Street Fighter’s greatest hits, the package includes the original Street Fighter, Street Fighter Alpha 1-3, Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo, all three versions of Street Fighter III (SFIII, 2nd Impact, and 3rd Strike), and much more. As direct ports of the arcade releases, each game retains much of what hardcore fans can expect from the original games as they were in their traditional arcade cabinets.

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Speaking of which, the collection also features a selection of filters and options for how you wish to view each game. Along with the old-fashioned normal mode, you can switch over to arcade and TV filters that show CRT-style scanlines and television tube-like curvature to each game, giving a more retro feel. A significant feature added to several of the games is the inclusion of online play for SFII Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Turbo, Alpha 3, and Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. With ranked matching and casual play supporting up to four players, you’ll be able to dive into online matches against other hardcore SF fans. Unfortunately, only these select titles are online-enabled. According to the developers, they focused on offering online play for the most popular entries in the series, instead of having empty online lobbies for the least active games in the package.

The 30th Anniversary collection will also come to the Nintendo Switch–which will have a console-exclusive mode. Called the Tournament Mode, up to 8 players (across four different Switch consoles connected locally) will be able to compete against one another in Super Street Fighter II Tournament Edition as they fight their way up the ladder. During our session, we started off by picking one character and competed against the opposing player. After one round, the match finish screen instructs each player to move over to a new spot on the connected Switch units, bringing their chosen fighter and current progress with them. It sort of felt like a game of musical chairs, except with quick matches of Street Fighter. Though it felt a bit gimmicky, it’s a neat feature for the Switch, and it could be a neat diversion when you have some friends around and some time to kill.

Along with the suite of games, the Anniversary Collection also comes with a special Museum Mode detailing the history and lore of the Street Fighter series. With a viewable Street Fighter Timeline, you can examine entries for each Street Fighter game along with factoids about their respective ports and the resulting impact for the franchise. Moreover, the timeline also details proposed side-games, such as how Street Fighter ’89 eventually became Final Fight, along with some developer notes and art about each major milestone in the series. The bonus mode also features detailed information about each member of the roster, along with an incredibly detailed sprite viewer where you can inspect each character’s individual animations for various moves across multiple games. Seeing the difference in detail between Chun-li’s Hurricane Kick from the original Street Fighter II to 3rd Strike shows how much the series has improved over the years, giving some added respect for the craft that went into each title.

It was fun going through each game and checking out what they had to offer in today’s age. Each entry is represented well, even featuring detailed facts about their development along with a showing of each game’s arcade specific attract mode during your pre-game selection. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection looks to be the most ambitious compilation the series has seen yet, and a surprisingly educational one as well. The series has been through a lot over the years, and seeing the essential games on display in all their glory offers some neat perspective on how much the series has held up over time, and how it still remains one of the most respected franchises out there.

Yakuza Kiwami 2 Coming To PS4 In North America This Year

On the heels of the Western release of Kazuma Kiryu’s last chapter with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, Sega has announced that we’ll soon be able to relive the earlier days–Yakuza Kiwami 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 in North America on August 28, 2018. The Japanese version, called Ryu ga Gotoku: Kiwami 2, has been out since December 2017, but the localized version is now on the way. Kiwami 2 is the remake of the original Yakuza 2 that came out for the PlayStation 2 back in 2006 (Japan) and 2008 (North America).

Yakuza 2 picks up one year after the events of the original game where Kiryu finds himself stuck in inter-clan drama yet again. Turmoil inside the Omi Alliance (rivals of Kiryu’s own Tojo Clan), turns animosity into a war in the streets of series-long home Kamurocho. This is all thanks to a coup within Omi led by the main villain Ryuji Goda. The son of an old Tojo chairman has to return to the yakuza lifestyle to protect the families, with plenty of help from Kiryu of course. And the beloved, yet unhinged Goro Majima also has to pitch in to keep the clan afloat.

Familiar faces like Makoto Date, Osamu Kashiwagi, Haruka Sawamura are central characters to the plot, alongside the Osakan detective Kaoru Sayama who makes her series debut to keep a sharp eye on Kiryu. This is only the setup for the rollercoaster ride that is Yakuza 2.

A completely new addition in Kiwami 2 is a whole campaign called The Truth of Goro Majima where we get to play as the man himself and uncover how he became a construction business tycoon just before the events of Yakuza 2. Playing as Majima was a highlight in the prequel Yakuza 0, and fans got to peer into the personal life of one of the series’ most distinguishable characters.

We get another dose of everyone's idol, Goro Majima!
We get another dose of everyone’s idol, Goro Majima!
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Kiwami 2 uses the new Dragon Engine which is the graphical foundation for Yakuza 6. It provides the best visual fidelity the series ever had, but also allows players to enter shops and buildings without loading times, even during fights. Yakuza 2 brings fans back to Tokyo’s fictional red-light district of Kamurocho and also takes us to the riverside Osakan town of Sotenbori; these two locations will look better than ever with the Dragon Engine.

Yakuza isn’t complete without its minigames; Golf Bingo and Virtual On are a few of the smaller things to get into. However, the fan-favorite Cabaret minigame from Yakuza 0 makes a return along with the most-valuable platinum hostess Yuki. Majima will also get the Clan Creator minigame as seen in Yakuza 6.

This isn’t the first time a PS2-era Yakuza game was remade. Yakuza Kiwami came to the West last year and modernized the series’ first release with additional substories, the Majima Everywhere subplot, and tweaks that made the storytelling more cohesive. Voiceovers were re-recorded to capture the improved localization, one aspect the series is known for, and Kiwami 2 is getting the same treatment.

Yakuza Kiwami 2 will be available both digitally and physically for $50; pre-ordered and first-run copies will come in a special steelbook with artwork of Kazuma Kiryu and Ryuji Goda.

For more on this long-time series, check out our Yakuza 0 review, Yakuza Kiwami review, and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life review. If you want a deep dive into how the series has evolved over the years, be sure to watch our History of Yakuza video.

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